Friday, August 5, 2011

do your bamboo diapers smell like dirty dish water? read this:

*note* this post is not for my regular readers. Although, I know you REALLY want to talk about stinky diapers and how to clean them. Really, you do. Skip this post and I'll be back to the regular blah blah blah soon.

If your baby's diapers stink, like really smell dirty when they are wet, but there is no sign of poop, you probably have detergent and/or mineral build up in the diaper fibers. Too much build up can lead to your diapers repelling and well, stinking. Much like you do if you have ammonia build up, you are going to need to strip your diapers. Stripping diapers is easy, but it can be a process. Here are some simple steps to strip detergent/ mineral build up from your diapers:
  1. Take your clean diapers and put them in the washer or tub
  2. Fill it with HOT water-- as hot as you can stand
  3. Allow the diapers to soak for a couple of hours, adding more hot water through a tea kettle or pot of almost boiling water, to the tub, as the water in the tub cools. 
  4. Agitate the water every now and then, to allow the water to really penetrate the layers of bamboo
  5. Drain the water and put the diapers in the washer (if they are in the bathtub) 
  6. Run a hot water wash without detergent  
You do not want to use detergent during this process because it will only add detergent to the build up, and be pretty much pointless. 

OR, you can run 3-4 hot water washes with extra rinses without detergent.

At this point, it is helpful to use RLR. RLR is a laundry additive that helps break down minerals and leaves your diapers nice and bright. And let's be honest, it has the most awesome packaging around. Truly. So to use the RLR, you are going to do a regular hot wash, with a little bit of detergent. Just sprinkle the RLR into the washer drum and start your wash cycle. After the wash cycle is done, run another few rinses, or if your diapers were pretty grungy, run a couple of hot washes without detergent. RLR breaks down all of the nasties, but if there are too many nasties in there, RLR will break them down and bring them to the surface of the fibers, but they will need a few more rinses/ washes to fully come out.

Once your diapers are free of detergent/ mineral build up, it is very important to change your wash routine to keep build up from forming again. Like with ammonia, you can do one or a combination of the following:
  1. change your detergent amount (you will most likely need to use less)
  2. get more water into your washer during the wash cycle
  3. add another post-wash rinse 
You need to be sure you are using the right detergent for your water type. If you have hard water,  you should use a detergent formulated for hard water and/ or add calgon to your wash routine. If you have soft water, you are going to need to use a detergent that is formulated for soft water, so it is easily rinsed out. If you have regular old city water, then you can probably get away with using a cloth diaper safe detergent and playing with the amount you use, and the water levels in the wash cycles to find a good, stink free balance.

I love using RLR about once a month just as maintenance and to help keep any build up at bay. If you have hard water, you can use it more often. Just be sure to do those extra washes/ rinses after you use the RLR, to wash away all the grossness.

If you have any questions or need clarification on something, please let me know! I'm happy to help :)

have ammonia in your bamboo cloth diapers? read this:

*note* this post is not for my regular readers :) I know you guys are uber tired of me talking about bodily functions and internal organs and poop. So just skip on by this post, and I will get back to your regularly scheduled nonsense soon. This summer has seriously been ridonkulous in the worst way possible.

Ammonia build up can be cause by a couple of things-- allowing urine to dry in the bamboo diapers, bacteria formed when urine and stool mix and too much detergent and/or minerals that build up in the diaper fibers.

Bamboo is a blessing and a curse because it is super absorbent and can work splendidly as an overnight diaper, but because it is so absorbent, it absorbs more than your typical cotton, fleece or microfiber diaper which can make it more difficult for your normal washer and wash routine to get all of that urine out. Allowing the urine, especially in an overnight diaper, to dry completely before wash day is a main factor in ammonia build up.

So you might be wondering, "How will I know if I have ammonia build up?" Oh, you will know. It will start out innocently enough, with maybe a slight smell when you take the diaper off the baby in the morning, or maybe a red spot on their little bum. But soon it will turn into an eye blazing, nose burning, butt blistering problem if you don't take care of it. A slight ammonia smell in the diaper pail is normal. As long as the diaper isn't smelling like ammonia after the baby wets it, you are fine. If the diaper doesn't stink when your baby wets it, it means your washer and wash routine are doing a good job of washing out all of those ammonia crystals, and you really don't need to worry about changing anything. But if the diaper is smelling after the baby has wet it, it is going to be a problem.

If you have ammonia build up, you need to get rid of it. It isn't good for your baby's butt and honestly, it can make cloth diapering a nightmare. First, you will need to strip the diaper. To do that, you can follow the steps below:
(you can do this in your washing machine, if you have a top loader, or in your bath tub)
  1. Take your clean diapers and put them in the washer or tub
  2. Fill it with HOT water-- as hot as you can stand
  3. Allow the diapers to soak for a couple of hours, adding more hot water through a tea kettle or pot of almost boiling water, to the tub, as the water in the tub cools. 
  4. Agitate the water every now and then, to allow the water to really penetrate the layers of bamboo
I like to use Bac-Out during this process. If you have Bac-Out, you can add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of it to the water as you are soaking them. Other people prefer to do a detergent soak with Rockin Green or Funk Rock. I prefer not to do this, as I fear a detergent soak will only lead to detergent build up. People have mentioned using Dawn dish soap to strip your diapers, only do this if your diapers are repelling because of a barrier cream. If you do decide to use a detergent, funk rock, or dawn to strip the diapers, you will need to really rinse them out to get all of the detergent and soap out of there.

After you have soaked your diapers in the hot water, rinse them and transfer them to the washer or drain the washer and do a rinse/ spin cycle and then start a HOT wash with your regular detergent. Wash the diapers, rinse them, and then wash them on hot again, this time without detergent.

By this time, your diapers should be good and stripped. If they smell like ammonia the next time the baby wets them, repeat the process but this time use either the bac-out (if you didn't use it before) or do a detergent soak.

Once you do not have an ammonia smell when your baby wets the diaper, it is time to get proactive to keep that ammonia away. I recommend using a wet pail to combat ammonia (I'll explain that in a minute) but some people are not comfortable using a wet pail, and that is totally fine. You can help keep ammonia at bay by doing one, or a combination of the following:
  1. add another rinse to your pre-wash rinse
  2. add funk rock to your pre-wash rinse
  3. change your detergent amount (you might have to add more, sometimes you need to use less)
  4. get more water into your washer during the wash cycle
  5. add another post wash rinse 
  6. add bac-out to your pre-wash rinse 
  7. do a 30 minute bac-out soak before after your pre-wash rinse and before your wash cycle
  8. change your detergent. If your detergent isn't getting the diapers clean enough, it isn't going to be able to wash out all of that ammonia and you are going to get build up. 

I believe it is really important to rinse at least the overnight diapers, after you take them off the baby. This will wash out most of that urine and help prevent those ammonia crystals from forming. To do this, you can rinse them in a bathtub or with the diaper sprayer. If you chose to rinse them, you can either wring them out and put them in your dry pail, or put them in a wet pail. If you chose to wring them out and put them in a dry pail, you need to be diligent about washing your diapers within a day or so, so bacteria and/or icky mildew doesn't form. If you chose to use a wet pail, this is one of the ways you can do it:
  1. get a bucket or a small (5-10 gallon) garbage can
  2. fill it with cool water, about half way
  3. put 1/8-1/4 cup bac-out in the water, as the bucket is filling (optional)
  4. rinse the diaper and doublers and place them into the pail
On wash day, you can either take the pail to the washing machine and dump the entire contents of the pail into the washer, or you can pull the diapers out and place them in the washer, and then dump the leftover water into the toilet or tub. If you don't have a lot of diapers in the pail, it is easy to dump the water, and then put the diapers into the washer. Then proceed with your normal wash routine. Because our laundry room is really a laundry closet, and I wash a TON of diapers and our wet pail weighs approximately eleventy billion pounds, I keep the pail next to the toilet/ bath tub and then drag the pail to the washer and pull the diapers out, then dump the leftover water into the toilet. I wear gloves while doing this, and while rinsing because I'm not looking for a spot on Dirty Jobs... although... it wouldn't be so bad if Mike Rowe decided to come for a visit...

If your changing area and place to rinse the diapers are far from the laundry area, and you prefer to keep the wet pail by the laundry area, you can rinse the diapers and then transport them to the laundry area using a small bucket, bowl or pail.

If you do not want to rinse your diapers and put them into a dry pail or wet pail, then you can spray them with bac-out after you take them off the baby and place them in the dry pail. The key to preventing ammonia is going to make sure your wash routine is flawless, but in the days of high efficiency/ low water washers, this is not always possible so other means of prevention are necessary.

Please let me know if you have questions or if something isn't clear. I am always happy to help and want to make sure that your cloth diapering experience is a good, frustrating free one.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

desperate measures

I've made it a rule to never complain about my kids, and I try really hard to stick to that. Of course they aren't perfect, but most of the time it isn't their fault when they are driving me crazy and I don't think it is fair to them to announce to the world that they might be making me a little bit batty at the moment. Kids are kids. They need things. They want things. They don't have the capacity to be patient for things. And when you have 4 kids,  who all need and want and aren't patient for things, all at the same time, you can get a little batty a little faster than you would like.

M has been gone for 5 weeks. 5 weeks of no contact, except for a short letter here and there. And it isn't like he's sending me a postcard with a picture of some gorgeous beach on it. He sends letters saying someone stole his laundry detergent and he needs me to send him some, and hand drawn pictures of him jumping out of planes. And believe me, I am thankful that I do get to hear from him at all, even if it is about how he probably got some swamp flu from trekking in the mud all day, but I want to *talk* to him.

So it has just been me, and the kids, for 35 straight days now. No reinforcements, no backup, no breaks. And they are generally good kids, except like I said, they just need and want a lot of things, and they need them and want them RIGHT NOW. I'm tired... so, so tired. I just want... sleep. That's it. I'll take 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Maybe even 6.

Last night's plan of paying the big kids 2 coins each if they slept until 7 this morning totally backfired, and both were in my bed at 6:13 this morning, asking if they could have their coins. (Yes, coins. Not nickles or dimes, or even quarters. They just want coins. Any kind of coins. Just to put in their piggy banks. Thank goodness for all of those random Euro coins I keep finding) So tonight, I've gone rogue. The battle is on. I need my sleep and I am going to get it.

A and MJs room has been stocked with a cup of water and a snack bag for each girl, along with a stack of books and some toys they haven't seen in awhile. W and CB's room is stocked with juice and dry cereal, bananas for each of them and a computer with a dvd. This is the one time I am very glad W can read, because when he wakes up he will see the note I have left for him: "DO NOT WAKE YOUR MOTHER UP, UNLESS YOU ARE BLEEDING OR THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE. And here's a dvd for you and CB to watch. REMEMBER,DO NOT WAKE YOUR MOTHER UP AND NO FIGHTING. Love and kisses, Mommy".

7 hours kids. Just, 7 hours... that's all I want... desperate times are calling for desperate measures.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

third and fourth

Before W was born, I was the perfect parent. He wasn't going to be allowed to watch TV or play video games, the computer was going to be off limits and we were going to only have educational toys. He was only going to eat organic and healthy... Fast forward 18 months and he's playing with my cell phone while eating marshmallows while watching Baby Einstein. So I wasn't mother of the year then, for sure. But I was pretty strict about only eating in the high chair and sitting properly on the furniture, no jumping on the bed and only going outside with shoes and shirts on.

Then CB came along and I got a little more lax. We didn't always eat at the table. You could often find her sitting on the back of the couch, eating her snacks. They didn't always wear shoes outside and when it was hot they were shirtless most of the time. They got away with making more of a mess than I would have like and things definitely weren't as controlled as I preferred, but oh well.

Then A and MJ came along. These girls, my third and fourth, get away with so much it isn't even funny. I kind of feel like as long as they aren't bleeding or their arm is bent the wrong way and they aren't in danger, it will be ok. There is so much that just doesn't matter to me anymore.

Sitting on the table? Fine, as long as they are quiet. Eating in the living room? Awesome, just put a blanket down and we will call it a picnic. Wearing 2 different shoes? Perfect, at least they have them on. Cereal for dinner? At least they are eating and I don't have to do dishes. Jumping on the bed? Exercise. It will wear them out before bed. Spill your plate? Fine, I'll clean it up later. No need to freak out or get upset. Things happen. A already knows how the Wii remote works, and mimics the motions as W plays Mario Kart. MJ and CB really enjoy playing Dora games on the computer. Hand eye coordination, right? (Justification is my favorite thing in the entire world)

Either I have become incredibly apathetic or I've relaxed a lot. I don't know. And all of the above really makes me sound like a horrible mother, but I don't think I am a horrible mother. They aren't out of control, they are just... curious... and there are 2 of them. And one of me. They are good kids. They listen, they play nice, the care for each other and their brother and sister, so I think we're doing ok... but my goodness they have changed me. And I am so glad they have.

Friday, May 13, 2011

and the winner is...

So blogger apparently got hungry and decided to eat the comments that were submitted yesterday. I tried to republish them from my email but only get an error message saying "This comment no longer exists" or something similar. I guess it is trying to hide the evidence of its binge. Thankfully I had saved all of the comment notifications so I published them under my name, in the order they were received.

And the winner is:

Marie! Congrats girl :) I will send the planner to your inbox in a couple of minutes. Thanks for playing, everyone.

Monday, May 9, 2011

new beginnings {and a giveaway--holla!}

It seems like every few months, particularly once when we get into a good rhythm and routine, something happens to knock us out of our comfort and forces us to revamp and renew. That is the ebb and flow of our lives, I'm not really surprised by it anymore. I guess I have learned to see it coming.

After being laid up for nearly 7 weeks and having help around the clock, I became pretty spoiled and kind of forgot how to juggle being a mom and wife while doing all of those other things I had to do to keep things running. I am now having to retrain myself and figure out the best way to make this house run. So I've started over with organizing and cleaning, making sure that I have my system back in place. Thankfully, I have an awesome "cheat sheet" to help me along: my trusty planner from The Project Girl, Jen Allyson.

I have been using this planner  since the beginning of the year, and it is wonderful. It is set up to keep you organized and accountable to yourself, especially if you have housework specific ADD like I do, or if you are just plain busy. Each day has a list of simple "chores" to complete and by the time you are done with the week, your house will be clean. There's really no need to do a huge deep cleaning one day a week or month because you will rotate through all of those tasks through the week, instead of doing it all at once. This makes housework so much more manageable. Knowing you only need to do a few things through the day is a huge relief, unlike the burden of having to spend an entire day cleaning.

And, best of all, it is customizable. So if there is something on there that you just don't do, then you can take it off. And you can add in all of those pesky little things you forget to do, or put off and never get around to... like cleaning the dried up food from under the high chair pads... not that I've ever forgotten to do that before... so you won't forget to get it done.

There is also a space to write in your appointments and/or meals for the week and your shopping list. I love that all of my to-do lists and shopping lists and "what did I have to do again today??" lists can be kept in one place. I have printed my pages out and placed them in a binder, separated by month, but you could do something cute like Jen did and make yours into a book.

I really encourage you to go check out The Project Girl. She has lots of eye candy (and a really cute new baby) and some great ideas for organization and design. And she has some super fun and helpful freebies too, which I have pretty much shamelessly snatched up and added to my "command center" binder.

This is a time of new beginnings for me; it is my second shot at the New Year, even though the year is nearly half over. And I know many of you are coming into a transition time also, be it the end of school for you kids, a new season, husbands coming or going, moving... So as a Happy New Year gift, I am going to give away one of JenAllyson's Awesome Planners to one of my readers. All you have to do is:
  1. leave me a comment on this post with your favorite organization tip or trick 
  2. put your first name and a valid email address in the comment, if you don't have it in your profile, so I can get the planner to the winner.
  3. promise that you will only use it for personal use and won't share it with anyone else.  
All entries must be received by Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 11:59pm EST and the winner will be chosen by and announced on Friday, May 13... ooooooh! Friday the 13! ZOINKS! You are more than welcome to share this giveaway with your friends, link on your blog and on Facebook, but only one entry per person is allowed. Incomplete and duplicate entries will be not be entered.

Good Luck!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Last night we put the babies to bed and headed outside to finish up our container garden. Now, I'm not positive the container garden will survive more than a couple of weeks because I have absolutely NO clue what I am doing, but we tried, and that is all that matters, right? The big kids were helping us out, filling the pots with dirt and throwing away the trash... and running off to play soccer and put rocks in their "rock collection" which is really a huge pile of cement "rocks" they have thrown in a garbage can. And come to think of it, I really am not quite sure where that garbage can came from... probably the same place the extra soccer ball that magically appeared in our yard came from... unless my kids are kelptos, which is a very likely possibility.

Anyway, at one point as the sun was setting CB looked up in the sky and SCREAMED, "LOOK! AN ALIEN SPACE SHIP!!!!" and then ran around the yard. And we were like, yes, that's probably right so we didn't pay much attention and then she screamed it again and ran around the yard once more. Once she had run back to the porch near us, M asked her how many aliens were on the space ship and she responded, very matter-of-factly, with, "fifty-one." Yeeeeeah. I'm now 100% sure she is from another world.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

flow charts and venn diagrams

I need a series of flow charts and diagrams in order to feed my family. Excel Pro or Power Point or something. I  have gotten part of my "diagnosis" from my GI "issues" and am officially allergic to wheat and peanuts, and probably some other stuff, like apples and some veggies, but we don't know what yet. And that kinda really sucks because I'm a big, BIG fan of carbs. Breads, pastas, lots of pasta, noodles, pastries, pasta, cinnamon rolls, pie... all of it are favorites. Did I mention pasta? Yep, love it. And I don't mean that healthy smart pasta either, I mean the wholesome goodness of enriched bleached flour pasta. And bread... again, not whole grain/ multi grain/ bird food bread. I'm talking the kind of bread that is so soft and preserved that you can roll it up into little balls and it will stay that way until you pop it in your mouth.

But alas, there will be no more delicious pasta or bread in my life. And that makes me sad because bread and pasta are the perfect catalyst for pretty much everything. Radishes? Gross. Until you put some Mediterranean yogurt cheese and sea salt on a piece of fresh bread and add the radish to it. Arugula? Disgusting! Until you add some olive oil, shrimp and capers, lemon juice, white wine, artichoke hearts, fresh oregano and parsley with some fresh chopped tomatoes and toss it all with some pasta... AMAZEBALLS. Have some fresh berries and buttermilk and eggs that are about to go bad? Make some French Toast!

Yes, there is rice pasta and wheat free bread but what is the point? The textures are wrong and it just doesn't feel right. And that is really lame for me to say because half of my kids have never even tasted real bread and pasta before. CB just started eating wheat last year. They have to suffice with the "fake" stuff so it should be good enough for me too. But I just can't do it. I don't want to do it.

Feeding my family is difficult enough already and now throwing my allergies into the mix make it even more ridiculous. The only person who can eat "normal" is M. He has no food issues, well, only if there isn't enough hot sauce... then there is a major issue. W can have almost anything but not "raw" dairy, like a glass of milk or regular milk in his cereal. Cooked milk, like cheese and yogurt are ok. But we do have to limit that and the amount of nuts he has. He also doesn't do well at all with processed foods or things that have sugars, preservatives and food dyes in them. So we pretty much keep him on a whole foods diet as much as we can.

CB can have wheat and eggs in moderation and she can have oatmeal too but anything with dairy, soy, beef and nuts are out of the question. She also can't eat apples or pears which eliminates most fruit snacks and juices.

Baby A is officially allergic to soy, barley and grapes (?!?!?) and can't tolerate diary, soy, wheat, oatmeal, eggs, nuts, beef and almost all fruits. Except bananas. Girl loves her bananas.

Baby MJ is not officially allergic to anything but will get a diaper full of blood if she has even a nibble of something with trace dairy, like a McDonald's french fry. She is also extremely symptomatic to everything Baby A is: soy, wheat, nuts, eggs, beef, and pretty much all fruits, but she can have barley and grapes. 

They can do potatoes but we can't just get them french fries while we are out because we can't be sure they aren't made with vegetable oil, which is almost always made from soy beans. We can't just order them a chicken breast without a fuss because most are marinated or brushed with oil or butter while cooking. I can't just give them a cracker or a cookie to snack on and almost all toddler geared "snacks" are made with at least one thing they can't have.

W and CB have been eating Wheat Free/ Dairy Free Fig Newmans for years so I figured they would be ok with A and MJ. But, they are made with barley flour. So MJ gets to eat "two cookies" but A can't. I personally really love the allergen free Enjoy Life Snickerdoodle cookies and ordered a huge box for A, but then I saw they are sweetened with grape juice, so that is out. It is hard to bake anything for them. Most substitutions are not agreeable to them so that really isn't an option either. 

So obviously, all of this poses a problem. If I want to make pancakes in the morning I'll need to make 3 kinds: one regular (flour, eggs, buttermilk and butter) for M and W, one with oat flour and the rest of the ingredients for me and one allergen free one for the babies and CB. Or I could make 4 kinds and make CBs with wheat flour and a diary substitute. And by the time I'm done cooking, Saturday morning cartoons would have given way to Saturday afternoon golf. And yes, I could make one kind but lets face it, the kind that all of us could eat is really not that tasty and is really super expensive to make once you add up all of the ingredients, so I'd rather make 2 cheaper batches and one expensive "half batch" for the girls.

What I need is a huge venn diagram to assist me. One that will fit nicely between W's drawings of Mario and CB's drawings of Frosting Princesses and a "box of wind". It would be a ridiculously lopsided diagram though-- the circle in the middle with what we could all eat would be, by far, the smallest of them all. As it stands now, the only things we can all eat are:

Starches: rice, quinoa (in moderation), potatoes and corn (in moderation and only in "ground up" form)
Meats: chicken, turkey and salmon  
Fruits: bananas and blueberries
Veggies: carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, peas and green beans

Sounds delicious, right? By Tuesday night, we have exhausted most of our options for meals we can all partake of and then I end up cooking 2 to 3 dinners a night. And that isn't including lunch and breakfast because then we get into the fact that we have 3 kinds of "peanut" butters to choose from: natural peanut, almond and sun butter if we want PB&J and the fact that the babies and I can't have bread so we would eat it on a rice cake... yum. Or if we wanted to have, say, a chicken pasta salad I'd have to make 3 kinds, one with everything for M and W, one with everything CB could eat and then one for me and the babies with rice pasta and cheese and dressing on the side so I could add it later for myself.

And then there's the milk situation. In summery: 1% and Soy for M, 2% for me, Rice milk for W, CB and the babies and then Neocate for the babies also to make sure they are getting enough nutrients. 5 kinds of milk, for 6 people. Consumerism at its finest, I tell you.

I guess I should be thankful I'm still on the "tator tot and milkshake" diet-- at least it makes it so I have one less meal to think about.

Monday, April 11, 2011

minor mental meltdown

I've had the physical meltdown, now I'm fearing I'm experiencing the mental meltdown. I'm tired. And everything is just... jacked. My control freak self has had to give up control of almost everything and in the midst of the chaos, I couldn't, and wouldn't let it bother me. But now that I'm "supposed" to be feeling better it is all starting to drive me a bit batty.

My kids run at 689 MPH. All of them. They never stop and there is always something to be taken care of. And that is the kind of chaos I normally crave. But since I am moving at 3 MPH these days there is no possible way I can keep up. Vortex. Tornado. Whirlpool. Blender. Black hole... Magic Bullet (which by the way is one of the greatest kitchen gadgets ever invented...) That is what I feel like I'm in. Everything is just moving around me while I try to grasp at something, anything, to hold onto.

A few nights ago was a prime example. At approximately 4:37, when dinner should have been cooking and kids should have been playing quietly, hell broke loose. After getting my fourth email in 12 minutes that needed to be answered immediately and dealing with some stuff over the phone I went upstairs to see why A was screaming at MJ and MJ was screaming NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!, only to find that they were just screaming to scream and A had a massive rash all over her torso. And her diaper was a mess. And she was screaming inconsolably, again, as she had done for much of the day.

At the same time CB decided she was going to go ahead and clean herself after using the bathroom, only she did it so thoroughly that she used half a roll of toilet paper. Then W was throwing some kind of fit because I told him he could not do something he REALLY wanted to do and it WASN'T FAIR that I wouldn't let him do it because he WANTED TO and I was a REALLY MEAN MOM. And then little MJ decided she wanted a diaper change too, and to steal her sister's blanket and binkie... and they all wanted to eat RIGHT NOW...

So as I was putting on gloves and fishing wads of soaking wet toilet paper from the toilet I was on the phone with the doctor's office, asking what to do about A, while she wanted to be picked up and was screaming into the phone. And after removing enough toilet paper from the toilet so it would actually flush, I fixed dinner and then squashed an epic battle between brother and sister because sister didn't PRAY BEFORE SHE ATE AND THAT IS NOT OK. YOU ARE ALWAYS SUPPOSED TO PRAY BEFORE YOU EAT. And sister kept insisting she PRAYED IN HER HEAD AND SAID AMEN OUT LOUD but brother kept insisting that was NOT OK because you ONLY PRAY IN YOUR HEAD FOR BREAKFAST AND LUNCH AND YOU PRAY YOUR WHOLE PRAYER OUT LOUD BEFORE DINNER. And how DARE she even take a bite of her food before we all prayed... And between all of that I was trying to get dinner for the MJ Monster and A, who was still crying, while scolding W and asking if he really thought Jesus wanted him to be talking to his sister and mother that way and if he would prefer to have a time out, instead of dinner.

And that is normal life. Any other day it would hardly phase me because it really isn't that bad but I don't have the capacity to deal with it like I should. I don't have the energy or the stamina to be a good mom to 4 very active and inquisitive and adamant children. And I don't have the mental strength to thoughtfully deal with all of the stuff that has been thrown at me in the past month.

I'm so thankful for my health. I know this could be so much worse. I really, really do. And that is why I feel so stupid for feeling run down and sad. But I'm scared of what is to come. If I will ever fully recover. If my body will ever function the way it is supposed to again. If I'm going to have to make some drastic changes to my lifestyle... If I'm going to have to slow down.

I've already slowed down and I hate it. I feel disgusting both mentally and physically. I went from running 15 to 17 miles and strength training 4 to 5 hours a week, to nothing. To literally sitting on my butt for 23 hours a day. And now all I see are large curd cottage cheese thighs and flabby arms. I hate cottage cheese in any form but especially hate it on my thighs. All of my hard work has disappeared and I barely have enough energy to go to the store to pick up a few things. I don't feel strong anymore.

Instead of continuing to drown in an ocean of my tears, I'm going to try to do what those pesky optimists say to do and focus on the good. There is so much good in my life and I really am thankful. I have an amazing husband who has borne so much more of the brunt than he should have had to in the past month... Waking up in the middle of the night with screaming babies, making sure the older 2 were entertained and fed, even taking the babies to the doctor all by himself while still managing to go to work every day and continuing his studies.

I'm thankful for my mom and friend J who were willing to drop everything and come save me with three days notice. Having to learn the schedules and feeding habits of 4 kids who are all allergic to different things and eat at different times, in addition to their sleep schedules, cloth diapers and other daily rituals is hard, hard work. And I'm thankful for my kids who shockingly haven't turned into total buttheads through this whole mess and have coped surprisingly well with all of the changes.

I know it is going to get better. I just want it to be better now. I want to be me again and to have fun and live my life instead of just watching it go by. So I will now go put on my big girl panties, pull up my boot straps and figure out how to make all of this work. And you are totally allowed to tell me to suck it up and shut up because there are plenty of people who have it so much worse than I do... I probably need to hear it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Six days after my previous visit to the hospital, I started having a weird pain in my gut. I put it in the back of my mind during the morning but as the day wore on, it became more pronounced. By 6 that night I was on google, trying to diagnose myself. Dr.  Google said my appendix was most likely exploding, as the pain was in my lower right abdomen, but I didn't have a fever so I was like, "whatever" and took some pain meds and went to bed. The second the pain meds wore off I was awake and crying. I was nauseous and couldn't move because my gut was hurting so bad.

I woke M and he drove me to the ER while my mom stayed home with the kids. Thank goodness it was before the bars closed so there weren't too many people there. Again my blood pressure was incredibly high and I could hardly answer the triage nurse's questions. They got me back in a room and I tried really hard to be gracious and answer everyone's questions. A resident had pulled the short straw and got to come ask me all of the same questions the triage nurse and ER nurse had already asked me.  I finally pretty much snapped and told her to READ MY FREAKING CHART because there was NO possible way I was pregnant, this was NOT a miscarriage. And then M took over the question answering duties. Then the resident had to consult with the doctor before they would finally give me anything for the pain. At that point, I was literally on my hands and knees, gripping the head of the bed and grunting like I was in labor, but it was worse than labor because the pain NEVER STOPPED.

The nurse, bless her, finally came in with a serious cocktail of zofran and 2 other amazing medications to take away the pain. Then she made me drink a delicious grapey concoction of contrast solution and sent me off to get a CT scan. CT scans normally suck but this one was awesome. Why? Because it talked and I was so drugged that I really thought it was talking to me. And then, through some mechanical arm, it inserted the contrast solution into my IV and I freaking thought I had been abducted by aliens, or something. I wasn't sure at all what the crap was going on but didn't really care because I felt like I was at Disneyland with all of the meds they had me on.

Sometime later the doctor came back and told me my appendix was fine. And I was like, dude, go back to school because there is NO WAY my appendix is fine. THIS HURTS. And even if it is fine, take it out anyway-- I DON'T WANT IT ANYMORE. And while you're at it, take my tonsils too because I don't want those, either. I wasn't exactly rational... but my appendix was, in fact, fine and not inflamed. However, parts of my colon and intestines were thick and "very inflamed" and that was what was causing the pain. Oh, and they also saw several hematomas on my liver. But that wasn't really a big deal and were normally caused by blunt force like being kicked or a stab wound and may go away later. Oh yeah, don't worry about those... they are probably just from when I got into a shank fight after roller derby a couple of weeks ago. Geeze.

So again, I was sent home, armed with pain meds and told to wait out the pain until I would get a colonoscopy done early the next week. While I was waiting that to get the colonoscopy done I couldn't keep anything I ate in. Well, I should say that I couldn't keep any normal food down. The only things I could stomach were potatoes and milkshakes, and I don't even like milkshakes. So for the better part of a week M would stop by Sonic on his way home from work to get me my daily meal of tator tots and a cherry limeade freeze. When I would try to eat real food I'd get sick. And then I realized that I was really getting sick from wheat. Every single time I ate wheat I would get a headache and that stupid abdominal pain again.

I have been asking my primary care doctor for allergy testing since November because I thought it was causing my eczema and he always refused because he insisted that allergies don't cause eczema. I have also been having daily headaches and that side pain, on a much lesser level, since around November. One of the reasons I went to the GYN in the first place was because I thought that pain was from my ovaries, which they ruled out through ultrasound. I had changed doctors and asked my new doctor for allergy testing, but she, having actually graduated in the same class as med school as my previous doctor, also insisted that I didn't need allergy testing because allergies don't cause eczema... yeah, ok... (I have since changed primary doctors AGAIN and will be asking for more comprehensive testing at my next appointment.)

The GI doctor thought I was probably suffering from a Crohn's flare up, although there is absolutely no history of Crohn's in our family and I have no history of flare ups nearly this bad. They also mentioned various types of colitis and cancer. I personally thought my body was just jacked from all of the toxins I had put in it the previous 2 weeks. I had even said that I wanted to detox from all of the pain meds because I just felt gross, but I didn't exactly want to do that kind of detox. I would have much rather drank some tea and ate some leafy greens. Not not eat for 36 hours and drink some salt solution that tasted like the worst over salted margarita EVER. I could hardly get that nasty stuff down. I did everything you aren't supposed to do and put a ton of ice in it and started chasing it with jello because that was the only way I could kind of get it down. I figured, heck, they give me the same amount as they give to a 250 pound man, so I shouldn't have to drink all of it to make it work, right? And oh my goodness did that stuff ever work. It worked so well that I was detoxed, cleansed AND sanctified.

The day of the colonoscopy we went and checked in. It had been over 36 hours since I had been allowed to have my precious tots and milkshake and I was huuuuuuuuungry and weak. I finally got to see the GI doctor and told him what had been going on and he was like, "Well, hey, I think we should go ahead and do an endoscopy too!" Oh REALLY!! Fun!! My esophagus was feeling left out. I've had things stuck in every other orifice, why not just bat for the cycle?

So after some confusion about the lab losing the pregnancy test I had to take 2 days before (mandatory, even though there was absolutely NO possible way I was pregnant) I signed a waiver saying I wouldn't sue if my imaginary baby was born with 3 arms and a missing toe and they wheeled me back to begin the tests. They both went flawlessly and I was able to take an awesome nap. When the nurse started waking me up I begged her to let me sleep for just 20 more minutes. She said no and shoved an orange Popsicle in my mouth. I don't like orange, I like red.

The GI doc didn't see any sign of Crohn's or cancer but he did biopsy a couple of areas. Now we are doing some blood tests and waiting on all of the results. I hope to have a "plan" soon. At least some kind of diagnosis so I know what direction to take and we can keep all of this from happening again. Food is still not my friend. I can stomach small amounts of some foods, but nothing is tasting or feeling good to me. I wanted to lose some weight before summer but losing it this way is just stupid.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"simple and routine"

It is hard to believe it has only been three weeks since my surgery. Some days it feels like it has been months. I've debated long and hard whether or not to share what happened and have decided to because so many people have asked. While nothing life threatening or major happened, it was still  painful and intense and rocked my world in ways I wasn't sure my world could ever be rocked.

The good news is that I don't have cancer! I DO NOT HAVE CANCER! And that is a huge, huge relief. Even though the chances of me having caner were quite small, there was still a chance. The bad news is... well, things didn't exactly go as according to plan...

The morning of the surgery the anesthesiologist and I decided it would be best to just sedate me and use a local anesthetic instead of putting me completely under, which made me feel a lot better. They did say that if they couldn't sedate me enough they'd have to put me a under, but he was pretty sure that wouldn't happen. Well, that did happen, and they ended up putting me completely under. Then they ended up taking 2 cm of the cervix, instead of 1/2 cm like they said they would. 2 cm is roughly half the cervix. And because of that, there was more bleeding than there was supposed to be, so they had to use sutures and cauterization, instead of just cauterization.

I was only supposed to be in recovery for about an hour, and then I'd be able to go home, except I finally started to come out of the anesthesia about 3 hours after the surgery had started. And when I did, I was in a tremendous amount of pain. I was shaking and moving around the bed but not able to form my words to tell them I was in pain. The nurse thought I was cold, so she gave me a blanket. M came in the recovery area and saw me and knew that was my reaction to pain so he insisted that they give me pain meds; the nurse insisted I was just cold and gave me another blanket. He insisted again, and she asked me what my pain level was. When I told her it was a 6, M replied with, "Her 6 is your 12, give her some drugs". They did, and I promptly had an allergic reaction to them. So they gave me more drugs to reverse the drugs and then gave me some more drugs for the pain. But I was still in pain. Lots of it.

I felt burning and told them, they thought it was from the allergic reaction I had to the pain meds. But it wasn't. This was a horrible different pain but I was too drugged to convey what I was feeling and what I meant. They gave me more morphine and my will to care decreased dramatically and I decided, stupidly, that the pain would go away soon and I'd just go home and tough it out. After routinely popping a vicodin and 800mg motrin every 6 hours until the next day I knew something was definitely wrong and called to ask for a prescription for stronger meds. The doc said no, as he rarely even prescribes motrin for this kind of recovery and told me to come in, because something was definitely not right.

My mom drove me back to the hospital and I slowly made my way to the GYN clinic. I could barely walk and contemplated stealing a walker from an old lady but decided that wouldn't be a good choice. When I got to reception they saw my face and took me directly to a room. My BP was through the roof and I was hurting worse than I ever had before. The doc came in, asked if he could do an internal, took one look at me, turned green and ran out of the room yelling for the head RN and 2 other doctors to get in the room now. They insisted I take some pain meds immediately and then they all proceeded to examine me like I was a medical anomaly.

It turns out that I was not slightly psychotic when I was in recovery screaming in pain. That burning I felt was, in fact, burning and I had suffered from an extremely rare and incredibly painful complication during the surgery. I had an allergic reaction to the surgical prep solution and it caused second and third degree chemical burns everywhere they had used it. Using your awesome powers of deduction, you can figure out where it burned me, given what kind of surgery I had. It hurt. It hurt so bad that I would have so much rather had gone through all 3 labors and 4 births of my kids again, without any pain meds, again.

None of the doctors in the room had ever seen this before. They had only come across it briefly in medical books and only one had actually heard of it through a second hand story from med school about this type of reaction. They didn't exactly know what to do so they left the room and consulted their colleagues, Dr. Web, MD and Dr. Google dot Com. (I'm sure they didn't google, but I know they had to go looking for the solution to my problem.) And because it was my luck, there was nothing they could really do, except medicate me and wait for everything to heal. It wasn't like they could skin graft the area... We all made the decision that it was probably safer for me to go home and be on bedrest than to stay in the hospital. The risk of getting an infection at home was so much less than getting an infection if I stayed in the hospital.

So I went home, armed with vicodin and expecting to just sleep for the next week. I was under strict instructions to take my 1000mg of vicodin every 6 hours, along with my 800mg of motrin and not to lift anything heavier than 10 pounds or to drive, use a credit card or make any kind of important decisions. And then we would just deal with the liver problems at a later date.

I was pretty good about staying in bed. Restless, but too weak and in pain to really get up and do anything. After the second day of pumping myself full of drugs, I was still in just as much pain as I had been before, and I didn't feel good at all. So we made the decision to go to the ER. I was freaked about going there. Could you imagine the look the triage nurse would have given me when I told her what the problem was? "Um, yeah, my hoo-ha is completely burned and I need some pain meds." I'm 99.8% sure she would have excused herself right there and called the cops and social services.

Thankfully, my doc happened to be on call up in Labor and Delivery so after a call to him he told us to just come straight to L&D and he would take care of me there. By the time we got there I was in so much pain I was shaking again. They immediately got to work letting the nurse in training start my IV. And lets just say that didn't go so well, for anyone. After she blew a vein and I promptly proceeded to pass out, she passed off the IV starting duties to another nurse, who blew 2 more of my veins. After M almost decked her and as I was sobbing hysterically (honestly, my pain was at least a 10 out of 10. I was begging to just go home... I couldn't do it anymore) they admitted defeat and called the anesthesiologist in. He shot me up with some lidocaine and put the IV in on the first try and then gave me a fantastic cocktail of morphine and benedryl and I slipped off into night night land.

While I was all, "duuuuuuuuuh", my doctor and his colleague went in and removed all of the dead skin and surgical packing. And even through all of the morphine it still hurt but I felt almost instantly better with everything out of me. Then they admitted me to the surgical unit, sedated me and let me sleep for the better part of the next 15 hours. Again, because the risk of infection was great, I went home the next day to try to heal and rest. Things were going pretty well after that. I even managed to take the babies (my mom drove) to their GI appointment an hour and a half away.

And then less than a week later, I was in pain, again. But this was a different type of pain. A new pain... one that was actually worse... and the fun began again. 

(continued soon, because I KNOW you all love hearing about my body ;) )

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

the nitty gritty

**Warning: this post includes the words "uterus" and "cervix" multiple times and possibly other words that may make 12 year old boys and immature women uncomfortable and/or giggle uncontrollably. If you are one of those people, click the red "x" at the top of your browser window, now.**

For Christmas this year, M got me a spa day. A complete, 5 item package. Hair, nails, massage, facial, the works. I was so excited! The day of my appointment I got all ready to go, said goodbye to the kids and headed out, blaring my music and singing at the top of my lungs on the way (I am so glad I didn't happen to butt dial anyone on my cell that day). When I checked in at the spa, the bimbo receptionist looked at me and with a super snotty voice said, "Um, we don't take walk-ins". Long story short, when M booked the package and paid for all of it, the bimbo never actually booked my appointments in the computer, so there was no one there to do the services for me. I have to say, I was pretty disappointed. I knew M had put a lot of thought into it and I was looking forward to a nice day, and dang it, I had shaved my legs which is no small deal in the middle of winter.

So out of spite, I literally called my doctor's office and scheduled a Pap smear. Because I would seriously rather have had a Pap done than reschedule with that front desk bimbo who ruined my Christmas present. It had been about 14 months since my last one, so it was time. I called to make the appointment, expecting to get an appointment date a month or so away, but they just so happened to have one for the next morning, at 10am. Less than 20 hours later, there I was, feet in stirrups, getting my Pap done.

For the couple of months before that I had a feeling something wasn't right. I just didn't feel good. I had a weird pain in my ovaries and my uterus HURT, I was tired, had headaches all the time and my periods were horrendous. And right after New Year's I got the call that I dreaded. Of course, the nurse called right before dinner time, on a night when M was running late and the kids were super cranky. All I heard her say, between the babies crying, was "HSIL and follow up testing using a colonoscopy to do a biopsy, as soon as possible". Um, hold up. I don't know what "HSIL" is right now, I will google that later, but I'm 98% sure that a colonoscopy has absolutely nothing to do with a Pap, and I would prefer NOT to have that done, at this time... And she laughed and said, no, a COLPOSCOpy. Not a COLONOSCOpy. Thank goodness.

So after I googled "HSIL" and proceeded to have the most massive panic attack I have ever had, I waited for a call to schedule the colposcopy. And a week turned into 2 weeks and the pain kept getting worse so I requested to get an actual GYN appt to see what was going on. And that doctor decided she wasn't comfortable with my case, so she was going to refer me to the specialty GYN clinic on Post. And that was going to take about 2 weeks. 2 weeks passed and I still hadn't heard from them, so I got ahold of a super secret phone number and called to see what was going on. The woman on the other line told me that they didn't have any room available to see me, so they were going to have to refer me to an OB/GYN off post, and that paper work would take about a week to go through. Ok, so we were 5 weeks past the "highly abnormal" test results and about 4 weeks past when the doctor originally wanted my "as soon as possible" urgent follow up biopsy.

As soon as the referral went through I called the office to set up an appointment and the soonest they could get me in was 4 weeks and 3 days from the time I called. Awesome. So I waited extremely impatiently, in pain, until the appointment day. On the way to the appointment I called to confirm that the appointment was still on, as no one had called me to confirm the day before. I was told, yes, yes, you are still booked, come in. So 20 minutes later I arrived, only to be told that they had to cancel my appointment because the doctor had to leave, but they could reschedule me for 3 weeks later. And that is when the temper tantrum began. I had already waited 9 weeks for this effing appointment. I had JUST talked to them, 20 minutes before, and they said I was still on for the appointment. I had driven 45 minutes to get there, with 3 cranky kids AND I had woken up early to shower and shave my legs and I was NOT going to wait 3 more weeks to get this done. I was NOT.

I called my insurance and told them what had happened and they were not happy at all. They gave me the names of some providers in my network to try to see if any of them could get me in sooner. But the soonest anyone had any "new patient" appointments available was in May. May. MAY. I knew in my gut that I could not wait that long. I knew that even waiting 3 more weeks for this biopsy was going to be too long. So in desperation I called the specialty clinic on Post and got the most wonderfully patient receptionist who was able to decipher what I was saying between sobs. Within 20 minutes her boss had called me back and asked me what was going on and when I told her, she was very upset. She knew I should not have had to wait over 9 weeks to get this appointment and that it just wasn't safe or responsible to wait that long. So she asked if I could go into their clinic at 2:30 the next day and I said YES!

It wasn't that I wanted to have this done. I mean, no one really wants a chunk cut out of their cervix, but I knew it had to be done. So the next day, I went to have the colposcopy done. I had to take the 3 girls with me, as I didn't have time to get anyone to watch them and M didn't have a chance to get time off and that proved to be an extra fun challenge because MJ really didn't want to be put in the stroller. The only way I could get her in the stroller was to give her my iPhone and turn on The Backyardagains (she has a wicked crush on Pablo). Then the doctor, his nurse, and his NP Trainee came in the room.

I'm all for people learning how to do medical procedures, I just don't want to be the one they learn on, especially when they are taking sharp instruments to the inside of my body, without any kind of anesthetic or shot of tequila to take the edge off. But, it was time for the NP to do her FIRST colposcopy!! Oh yay. So with the doctor telling her what to do she started the examination... and they used a lot of big words in concerned voices while looking inquisitively into the microscope thing. And then the NP asked the doctor if she was seeing the right thing (!!) and he was like, I don't know, scoot over so I can take a look... and I was like, dang, I should have sold tickets! 

The doctor was really not impressed with what he saw and wanted to biopsy 2 different areas of the cervix. So he handed the NP the long knife thing they use to do the biopsy and started to tell her how to do it (!!) And then she stabbed me in the vagina, which is NOT supposed to happen so I kindly requested that the doctor do it instead. Two samples from the cervix and a stab to the vagina later, I was done. And it hurt, but I knew it was necessary. The doctor told me as I left that he would have the results in a week (the next Friday) and to "have a nice weekend". Yes, yes, me and my wounded cervix will have a fantastic weekend, thanks.

3 days later I got a phone call from the clinic and instead of hitting "accept",  I hit "decline". I have never been more upset about making such a stupid mistake. Their office was closed so I couldn't call back to see who had called me and I tried not to worry about what the phone call was about, but I was freaked. The day after, at 8 am, they called back. And you know it is never good when the patient advocate calls you, with her super nice and sweet voice, and tells you that she has some news and asks you if you would rather come in to hear it, or hear it over the phone. I chose to hear it over the phone.

CIN III, Severe Dysplasia. Not cancer, but precancerous. They will have to do a Cold-Knife Conization to remove the abnormal cells, which cover over half of the transition zone. This is the best treatment for these kind of cells and provides for the best sample of tissue to test for cancerous cells deeper than the surface cells. Oh. Joy. Thankfully, this is a fairly common and fairly simple procedure and has a high success rate but it is still not something that I really want to do. It is going to hurt. It is going to require general anesthesia. It is going to take awhile to recover from and it might have some side effects.

The truth is, we want another baby. And I know that disgusts some people (why on earth would I want another child when I already have 4???) and it is hard for others to understand, but I don't feel like our family is complete. And this surgery will make it potentially difficult to get pregnant and carry a pregnancy to term. And that is assuming that the cells are not cancerous and don't come back. So, while minimal on the grand scale of things, this is still a lot to take in and digest.

I am not writing all of this out to gross you out or get the "TMI Queen of the Month Award" or even to  be all "pity me, please" but more as a PSA to get your freaking Paps done regularly. I have never, ever, had an abnormal Pap. Never. Less than a year and a half ago I had a normal Pap. This has gone from nothing to "holy crap!!!" quickly and you never know who it is going to hit or when or how fast. Normally these kinds of cells to not grow this fast, and normally only become abnormal and/ or go away on their own over the span of a few years but I happen to be in a special subset of women who's body's react this way.

I'm sure this is payback from my cervix for all of the trauma I have put it through over the past 5 years. "You want to have 4 babies in 3 years?? Fine, but payback will be mine." It is angry. Very, very angry. Your cervix might not be as angry as mine, but it might be hiding a secret. It might not. You never know and the only way to stay on top of this is to get checked regularly. There aren't many obvious symptoms and the only reason I know what is going on is because I got spiteful one day and on a whim made an appointment. Believe me, the last thing you want is to go through this, or worse, go through cancer treatments. Cervical cancer is treatable and has a high cure rate if it is caught early, but don't even let yourself get to that point. It isn't worth it to you and those you love.

**Please, please, do not SPAM me with HPV vaccination info, debates or scolding. I don't need it or want it. I am not interested in engaging in a conversation about it. I'm not an expert on this, and have only started learning about any of this in the past couple of weeks. Please call your doctor if you have questions or concerns or want to discuss the HPV virus and/or vaccination and the side effects. I am also not interested in engaging in discussion about the health care system-- thanks for understanding.**

Monday, March 14, 2011

uber, super reality check

I am so glad that February was a short month because it was all kinds of dumb. It started out ok but somewhere around the middle of the month it just got stupid after a container of yogurt tried to kill me. Yes, it did. I was famished one night and grabbed a container of yogurt, not realizing it was past its expiration date AND had sat in the warm car for about 2 hours while I drove it home from the store. I didn't think it tasted too funny when I ate it, but it certainly didn't taste good about 4 hours later when I was in a heap on the bathroom floor, using a damp, most likely dirty, towel as a pillow and praying for the rapture to happen immediately.

A few days later, M had LASEK done on his eyes, which was great, except for the unforeseen complication of getting MRSA inside his eye, which lead to the threat of a cornea transplant, should his eye not get better and scar. Because that is just what we needed... a cornea transplant would most likely squash any hopes of him meeting his career goals, so we decided that if he did end up losing his eye, he'd stay home with the kids and wear an eye patch while I went off and joined the Airforce so we could keep our benefits. Neither option is anything we had ever thought put in our "5 year plan" so it was pretty scary having to consider all of those potential possibilities. The kids just thought it was cool that daddy might stay home with them and best of all BE A PIRATE!!

As he was healing up, thanks to heavy doses of steroids and antibiotics, CB woke up one morning with purple pin prick spots under her skin on her face, neck, ears, eyelids and chest. It was the weirdest thing I had ever seen. And because she had been complaining about her legs hurting badly the day before, of course my first thought was LEUKEMIA so I raced her to urgent care right away. The doctor came in and kind of glanced at her and said something about how she was sure it was just a reaction to something and that it would clear up soon with some benedryl, but when I interrupted her and said  that I had never seen a PURPLE PIN PRICK rash UNDER THE SKIN as a reaction to some kind of food, she looked up and then proceeded to join me in freaking the freak out. After labs in the office we were sent to do more specific labs at the hospital and then to the pharmacy for more steroids to see if that would help clear it up. Wanna know what a cup full of pee, 6 vials of blood and 2 finger pokes from a distraught 4 year old cost me? $19.99 for a Barbie and horse and another 20 bucks worth of Dollar Spot stuff, and I think I got off cheap. Thankfully, all of the labs were normal and the rash faded after a few days. We still don't know what caused it, but are praying hard that it doesn't come back.

Then MJ decided that sleeping was stupid, as was eating, and that she was going to throw up almost everything she did eat for a few days. Poor little thing was so miserable and pitiful and ended  up losing a couple of pounds. And in between all off that, I had a follow up appointment for my whacked out blood pressure and told the doctor that I didn't care what he said, I was going to have a stroke anyway at age 50 if I didn't stop waking up 47 times a night to go to the bathroom and practically passing out every time I stood up. So I got to stop those meds and, shockingly, my blood pressure actually went down!

Unfortunately, my whacked out blood pressure and kids being sick and all of the other garbage of February, piddle in comparison to the fantastically awesome news that March brought. M was sick with a nasty cold, and now all 4 kids are sick, and then there's my issues...

I am still very much in denial about what is going on with me right now. Blood pressure aside, I appear to be healthy but inside my body is a raging time bomb of cells, reproducing at an abnormally fast rate. A time bomb that was silent until a couple of weeks ago when I got the dreaded phone call and heard the words "precancerous" and "needs to be removed immediately".

So, there is your daily dose of happiness and joy. Holy Debbie Downer, I know. I have my pre-op appointment today, where we will discuss the specifics of what is going to happen and how it will impact our lives. I am so, so thankful I don't have cancer and that this was caught early but scared about going under the knife and anesthesia as I've never had to do either.

I really hate it when people are super cryptic about things and say that there is some life altering thing going on in their lives, but won't share exactly what it is... but I am going to be that person today. I'm not begging for prayers or asking people to be worried about me, because I WILL be fine, but both are appreciated if you feel so inclined. I promise to share all of the gory details once I know all of the facts and have a plan in place. Promise. Cross my heart, pinkie swear kind of promise.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

vanity, reality, mortailty, and all that

For the past few months I've noticed my vision has been getting worse. It got to the point where I couldn't drive at night, had trouble driving during the day, was getting headaches all the time, etc... I finally decided it was time to go to the eye doctor after having to ask W what a sign said because I couldn't see it and he was like, OMG. My mom is so dumb, she can't even read a sign. And I was like, no, I can't see the sign. Big difference.

So I went to the eye doctor and after 17 attempts shooting that friggin puff of air in my eye, I saw the doctor. He informed me that I wasn't blind, just worked way too hard to focus and got tired easily. Oh, and I was farsighted. And then he told me I needed to wear glasses full time. And because the prescription was so slight, it wasn't a good idea for me to get contacts. Yippee!

After much deliberation I picked out some glasses, ordered them and went on my way. A week later I went to pick them up and wondered what the heck I was thinking when I picked them out. They were UGLY. And made me look OLD. Like I was in my THIRTIES. And because I am wicked awesome, I chose to get the transition lenses. Oh yes, I did. So I basically got old people glasses.  I did not like them but there was no way I was going to buy another pair, I had paid good money to look like I was 35. Not only do I have glasses that age me tremendously, but they have also given me this really cute little patch of eczema under my eye, where the lens rests on my cheek. So I'm really pretty these days.

In the meantime, my regular doctor had become quite concerned with my blood pressure. Apparently it is not normal for a 28 year old to have high blood pressure. So he had me come in for an appointment, all 4 kids in tow, and when I got there he asked me with a straight face why I thought my blood pressure was high. Uuuuuuuum, is that a trick question?

And he requested that I go on blood pressure meds to try to regulate it. So let me get this straight. In the course of one week, I was wearing glasses full time AND going on blood pressure meds. No way. Nooooooooooo way. I am 28 years old! There is no reason why I should have to be on blood pressure meds.

And then he gave me the dreaded speech that included the words, "stroke, death, disabled, brain damage, and heart attack". Whoa Whoa Whoa. Did you not hear me? I am TWENTY EIGHT. Not FIFTY. And he literally said, "Well, if you want to be around when you are fifty, you need to get this under control so take the meds". Did we just discuss my mortality? Holy freaking reality check. I am in decent health, a good weight, I eat right and exercise. It isn't like he can tell me to go change my lifestyle and loose twenty pounds and my BP will go down. However, he did suggest counseling to "learn some coping techniques" and perhaps a parenting class or two, to "pick up some new ideas to help with the kids." Yo. I might have panic attacks in my sleep, but I am not a stress case (compared to all I have to deal with) and I do NOT need parenting classes. You suck! That is why I watch SuperNanny, anyway. Humph.

I begrudgingly took the meds. He tried reassuring me that it was just a simple water pill, that the worst I would feel was perhaps the need to use the restroom a couple more times a day... What he failed to mention was that these freaking pills would make me wake up four times a night to pee, make me sweat like a flipping pig for no reason and then would make me have to pee thirty seven times during the day. Not only that, it is just one more pill I need to take... so now I need one of those pill dispensers with the days of the week on them to keep it all straight. And I can't read the labels to see how much of what I need to take without my glasses. So ok, let me put on my glasses so I can take my pills before bed, then wake up four times in the middle of the night to pee while sweating like Whitney Houston.

I swear, if I stepped on a Wii Fit right now it would say, "Hello Joanna. Your Wii Fit age is 467." And it would groan. And I would cry. I am TWENTY EIGHT YEARS OLD. What the crap is wrong with me? I don't want to have a heart attack when I'm fifty. I have four kids. Four amazing and wonderful kids who need their mama as much as I need them. So I will take the stupid pills and continue to live like I'm in a commercial for a pill for overactive bladder syndrome, minus the gray hair, so I can be here for them. But dang. I don't like getting older. This really kind of sucks.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

vocabu-wa huh??

CB is extremely creative. I don't think her mind ever stops. The first thing she says in the morning is something about the dream she had the night before, which have lately included lots of bubbles and dragons? And the last thing she says before she goes to bed is what she is going to dream about as soon as she falls asleep. In between she is always singing or dressing up or drawing, cooking, making something out of nothing, dancing, "reading", finding the deeper meaning in things... I don't know how she isn't exhausted.

One of her most amazing talents is her way with words. She rhymes like a pro, like a mini- Diva Eminem, and she can string words together that shouldn't be put together by a small child. For instance, a while having a conversation about whether or not her daddy liked kale she said, "Well, I will just question him about it when he arrives home from work this evening." WHAT?!

She has been talking non stop since she was 17 months old. I think I may have mentioned before that when she was 22 months old she was tested as having the vocabulary and comprehension of a four and a half year old, Lord help me. Even now, at almost age 4, her vocabulary is ridonkulous-- much better than mine, I think (clearly, because I use the word "ridonkulous"). 

But sometimes her creative brain takes over, as does her propensity for the sounds of other languages (Spanish, thanks to Dora and Dutch and Korean thanks to her daddy) and she ends up making up her own words for things, fully expecting us to know what they mean.

Woggly= a combination of wiggly and wobbly
Cribbled= a combination of scribbled and crumbled
PipUp= a sumersault
Habbalay= well, we still aren't exactly sure what that one means...

And then there are her mindbendingly observant thoughts:
"Mommy, lizards are NOT inventions"
"Houses can't jump"
"Remember 14 years ago when I was a pig and I went 'oink oink squeal squeal' and then they cut me up and ATE ME???" (what the....???)

And on and on and on. This is all in addition to the fact that she truly believes she is a princess and nearly every request you make of her will be met with some kind of "what would a princess do" response:
"Mommy, princesses don't eat that."
"Mommy, princesses don't go potty." (neither do astronauts, apparently) 
"Mommy, princesses don't lift up their dresses to go to the bathroom, someone does it for them."
"Mommy, princesses ALWAYS wear sparkly earrings so I need some too."
"Mommy, Germany princesses don't wear klompen. Only Dutch princesses wear klompen and I am a German princess because I was born in Germany. I need Germany princess shoes." (which is funny, because she is actually half Dutch, but whatever.)

In fact, she's so wrapped around this princess idea that when she comes to an obstacle, like a piece of paper on the floor in her walking path or a chair she needs to walk around, or perhaps a flight of 3 stairs, she will stop and wait, saying, "Who will saaaaaaaaaaaaaave me???" until someone comes to her rescue. And when you tell her she can, in fact, remove the ginormously heavy and cumbersome scrap of blanket fuzz from her sock, she will counter with a round of, "But I CAN'T. YOU have to do it. It is too HEAVY for me." complete with sad eyes and a stuck out bottom lip.

There is something about this child though, something so brilliant and special. She has this incredible spirit and ability to make everyone smile and she has the most sweet and empathetic heart and always wants to be sure that everyone is ok and if they aren't, she wants to fix it. I'm sure that in addition to those qualities, her creativity and humor are going to take her places.  I haven't figured out yet who she is going to be or where she will end up but I am so looking forward to finding out. Although, I'll fully admit to being more than a little bit terrified of the road that takes us there...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

how californians play in the snow

We haven't really been around snow since we left Germany, when we lived in a snow globe. I wasn't really expecting to be around snow this year, especially considering it was 74 degrees, 2 days before Thanksgiving. So when it snowed a good couple of inches the day after Christmas, and then stayed around for awhile, I was really surprised, and completely unprepared.

The kids REALLY wanted to go out and play in the snow, so I dug through all of our boxes and tried to find acceptable clothing for them to wear. I only had one infant snow suit, W's old red and blue one, which went to MJ, as she is the smallest. Who cares if it made her look like a boy?? A got to wear CB's old jacket and 2 pairs of pants, and boots that were 3 sizes too big for her. CB squeezed into the snowsuit W wore 2 years ago-- a size 3T snowsuit and size 7 boots. Except, she wears a 5T and size 9 boots, but at least she was warm... save for the 2 inches of leg where there was a gap between the bottom of her pants and the tops of her boots. And then there was W... poor W. There wasn't anything to hand down to him, so he got to wear some fleece pants from last year with a pair of CB's leggings under, his jacket from last year and some rain boots, under the stipulation that he was not to run, as rain boots don't exactly provide traction on slick ground.

When the kids had woken up that morning, they bounded into our room begging to go tobogganing. Tobogganing would have been fun, except we don't have a toboggan, or really anything to play with in the snow. I told W I would find him a garbage can lid, or a trash bag or even a piece of cardboard and we could rock the snow ghetto style, but he politely refused. After M and I had spent nearly an hour trying to cram everyone into their too small snow clothes and improvised snow boots, they headed outside. The older two really REALLY wanted some toys to play with in the snow, but I didn't have any, so they got to play with our beach toys. Because everyone builds "snow" castles with sand buckets and molds and digs through the snow with sand rakes and sifts, right?

The snow was perfect for playing in. Dry enough for it not to be really cold and wet, but wet enough to stick and make a snowman. And make a snowman we did. Not to be outdone by anyone else on the block, M made a snowman that was 6 feet, 4 inches. But because I was not prepared for snow, I didn't have anything for eyes, or a nose, or a mouth, or buttons, or arms... and because the snow had fallen on cut, dead grass, there were lots of little pieces of grass rolled up into the snowball, which made the snowman look like he had a big hairy butt. So for awhile, we had a naked, hairy snowman. It was gross, I'm not gonna lie.

Thankfully, I had radishes in the fridge. They were left over from Thanksgiving, but whatever. I thought they could be put to good use being used as eyes and buttons, and possibly a mouth so I took them outside, along with one lone wiggly carrot, most likely left over from Thanksgiving too. We carved some holes in the head to put the eyes and mouth in and it was great. Except, the holes we had carved  kind of froze and made sockets, and the radishes, because they were round, kind of rolled around in the sockets. Which, really, would have been fine, except the "stem" part of the radish kept wanting to roll to the front which gave our snowman red eyes with glowing white centers, which made us look like the psychos on the street with the demon eyed, hairy butt snowman in the front yard. So we took the radishes out of the eye sockets and shoved some coal in there instead.

Our mammoth snowman lasted for a week or so. One sad morning I came out side to see its head had fallen off and then the rest went pretty quickly, and painlessly. It was fun while it lasted but I am so happy not to have snow anymore. The kids and M loved it and probably would have camped out over night had I let them but the babies weren't so impressed and after about 20 minutes of falling over repeatedly declared it to be cold and dumb and headed inside. I'm just happy I don't have to worry about my pipes freezing and dodging people who don't know that you don't break or accelerate when you are sliding in your car. And I am also very happy that it no longer takes me 2 hours to get everyone dressed when we have to go out.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

attack of the slacker blogger

Wow, a whole month of me not running my mouth, again. I am officially a slacker blogger and you can consider yourself attacked. The past month has FLOWN by-- we were so busy with Christmas then we had contractors here finishing the storage closets. They swore it would only take a day to complete. A day turned into 2, and then a canceled day, and then another work day and then a canceled day... then they finally finished after I told them they had to be done THAT. DAY. because I had to go somewhere and if they didn't finish they were going to have to come out AGAIN the next week to finish and the head honcho was like, "OH NO! I can't do that! I'll be losing money" and I was like, "Dude, you should have, I don't know, COME TO WORK ON THE FLIPPING CLOSETS THOSE 3 DAYS YOU CANCELED ON ME!" Miraculously, the closets were finished 20 minutes before I had to leave, go figure.

Buuuuuuuuuuuuut, apparently, when you ask for a bid to FINISH a closet, the bid doesn't include finishing the floor. So now I have finished closets (insulated, dry walled and painted w/ trim) but a lovely, custom paint speckled plywood floor in them, instead of something like, I don't know, CARPET?? Whatever. It is easier to slide the ninety five thousand boxes that reside in the closets on the plywood anyway.

So we had all of that and then the next week Mother Nature herself decided to give the state a big ol' "HAPPY NEW YEAR" and snowed down on us with fury and vengeance. And then she decided she wasn't satisfied with making us all stay indoors for a day because we all forget how to drive when it snows so she warmed everything up for a few hours, just so everything could slightly melt, and then dropped the temperature 28 degrees causing a 3 inch thick sheet of ice to cover EVERY THING. And everyone was like, "OH MY GOODNESS!! SAVE THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN!!" Stores sold out of everything, there was mass hysteria and everyone freaked like it was y2K again. And then there were the dudes who were like, "Yo. I gotta JEEP. I can do what I want" and would go blazing down the street, only to realize that when it was time to stop, they couldn't and that the curve that says 25 MPH should really be taken below that during an ice storm. Hunny Pie, a Jeep and 4 wheel drive aren't going to do you any good if your tires are bald and you have no common sense. Idiots.

But now, the snow has melted and everyone is back at work and school. The Christmas decorations have been put away and my closets, despite our lovely custom flooring, are clean and organized, and it only took me 42, 58 quart bins to organize it all. Finally, baby clothes are separated by size and gender instead of being thrown in whatever box they fit in. My "fat" and "skinny" clothes have their own place, all of the random attic crap has been sorted through and put in its proper spot (mostly the garbage). And I have finally done it: I got rid of all of my college text books and research from the papers I may or may not have started 24 hours before they were due. I'm sure somewhere, someone is having a thrill a minute dumpster diving while reading about Presidential Image and Campaign Finance Reform.

I am doing my best to get the rest of my life in order but seeing as how there are currently 250 cookie cutters littering my living room floor, compliments of the babies (who are now 18 months old!!), I don't think I'm getting very far.